Friday, October 1, 2010

Australia Lecture One

In 100 words or less, please answer the following:

From this week’s lecture on planning issues in New South Wales, what planning process described by Whitney do you think would either (a) contribute to increasing urban sustainability or (b) decrease urban sustainability, and why?


  1. Katherine (Katie) Round 4643038October 1, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    I think that the 3A planning process where the New South Wales Government decides has the potential to decrease urban sustainability efforts. Urban sustainability in a broad sense is about ensuring that social, economic, environmental, cultural and needs are meet within urban areas. Under the 3A process the ‘needs’ of people are not able to be effectively heard as public involvement is limited in these projects and often determined at the discretion of project coordinators. Under this process there is the underlying philosophy that ‘govt knows best’ which may not be the case in some circumstances. There is also the danger that local and regional planning decisions can be excluded within this process.

  2. I agree with Katie Round, in that the 3A planning process challenges the principles of sustainability, and may in some circumstances create undesired results. Here, the approach is dominated by the ‘government knows best’ philosophy. As described by Whitney, the ‘ad-hoc’ system is used for major projects, and enables the determining authority to decide how much consultation will be involved. In order to push projects through faster and more efficiently, this would often result in minimal public involvement. Therefore, this top-down delivery may compromise the environmental, social and/or economic wellbeing of the local community of whom will be most impacted by the planning outcome in the long-term. Rather, if a greater level of consultation was adopted through the decision-making process, the stakeholders could potentially generate new and more sustainable options that were previously unconsidered by central planners and project coordinators.

  3. It seems that each of the different approval paths that Whitney mentioned (3a, 4, and 5) under the EP&A act could pose potential setbacks towards reaching increased sustainability. As people have already mentioned, the 3A process is largely top-down, and doesn’t allow enough public participation to be considered ‘socially sustainable’. In contrast, Part 4 is more community based as it relies on Local Environmental Plans (LEPs). While this provides a better opportunity for public involvement, it can also complicate otherwise simple planning agendas as the ‘layperson’ has to deal with multiple LEPs for one project. This could result in excess time and money being spent than necessary. From what I understood, Part 5 requires that the party who is proposing a project be the same group who is responsible for assessing it. This part could have negative impacts towards sustainability as developers could complete a faulty assessment to ensure their project is implemented. It seems that, to ensure a more sustainable outcome, Part 5 needs to include at least one more ‘check’ by government or public critique.

  4. Anita Kulasic 4876931

    I would agree to what my colleagues above have said. The 3A planning process in New South Wales i believe would not contribute to increasing urban sustainability because it limits public participation. We all know that urban sustainability is much broader than just the environment it is about the social, environmental, cultural and economic needs of an urban environment. However, under the 3A process it disregards the need for public participation because the "government knows best" about the project that they are putting through. There is no consultation process under this section of the Act where the locals that know best about their area are not taken into consideration. This allows for the project to get through quicker however it could lead to having unhappy citizens.

  5. The Part 3A process could decrease urban sustainability. The Part 3A process is used for major (often infrastructure projects) that are of state significance. This process tends to adopt a ‘government knows best' philosophy and therefore local resident involvement and participation is often low. This may decrease urban social sustainability, as the needs of local residents are not being heard (and possibly not being met). However, even if public participation and consultation occurred at a higher level, it does not necessarily mean that the processes will better achieve urban sustainability, in particular social sustainability. We just have to look in our own backyard with the Waterview motorway extension. Public involvement and consultation occurred in the years prior to this year’s decision. However, the Government decided what option was best, which is at large not supported by the local residents. Even if the Part 3A process incorporated a high level of public participation it would need to be genuine consultation (occur at beginning of process, no predetermined proposal, revising of plans etc..) not merely a higher level of public participation through informative meetings where the proposal has already been determined.

  6. Brogan Perkins

    With urban sustainabiltiy involving the four wellbeings inclusive of social wellbeing; the Part 3A approval assessment for major projects uses a government knows best philosophy which provides the NSW government with more influence over decisions. This reduces involvement from the local community thus reducing social sustainability within NSW. This is becuase the applying party only has to submit a concept plaa which is not detailed, with little public involvement or consultation about what the final product will be. This means theres no set agenda for public information and no duty to consult either.Like sian said above in most instances with major projects like this public consultation even when mandatory makes no difference as most often the government has a pre determined outcome for the project and always put economic factors ahead of social. Making a hierarchy which decreases social sustainability within the urban context.

  7. Thanks for your comments.

    If you would like to know more about the Part 3A approval process in NSW, see the attached link:

    The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) provides a critical overview of the process.


  8. From the lecture I understood the purpose for Part 3A is to allow major infrastructure developements which includes mining, wastewater disposal, desalination plants and highways to occur with the exclusion of: approval from the landowner, appeals against the project, and exemtion from compliance of environmental laws. Perhaps allowing for a more streamed line appraoch. Therefore I consider Part 3A to decrease sustainability. Part 4 & 5 I consider to increase sustainability because of the assessments, development controls and environmental plan.

  9. K3aton l4ne

    It is in my opinion to concur with my peers. The top down approach taken by the federal level of the governance in NSW limits public participation and decreases urban sustainability. The Environmental Planning Assessment Act implemented by the federal government and its various levels offer different levels of participation. As everyone’s saying the 3a level concerned with infrastructure projects etc are all implemented at a ‘state significant’ level. Basically the state knows best and when they are using projects funded by rate payers I am surprised that this hasn’t met more public opposition. I believe this state directed nature of big budget projects could have a very detrimental effect to urban sustainability if the people making the decision were not completely accurate in the decisions and process used.

  10. Diana Luong - 4904277

    A planning process discussed by Whitney which I think contributes to decreasing urban sustainability is their different approval paths of 3A and 4. I agree with what has been said in the critique of 3A where public involvement in decisions which affect them are limited in order to speed up and make the process easier. As a result, urban sustainability isn’t met because as Whitney has said, urban sustainability is “Ensuring the economic, environmental, social and cultural needs are met in an urban context”. If there is insufficient public involvement, decision makers and developers will not know what the economic, environmental, social and cultural needs of the public are.
    Whitney also stated that their approval path, 4 contains many local environmental plans which confuses the layperson. Being confused would prevent the layperson from following the guidelines and rules in the environmental plans which would mean that urban sustainability will be difficult to achieve even if the plans have provisions for urban sustainability. Maybe they could try to amalgamate some of these plans into fewer plans.

  11. Jonathan - 4890696

    What concerns me most about the 3A process in NSW is the severe limits on public participation - this is even more significant as with 3A these project under this section are 'major projects' which have 'state-wide' importance. This in my opinon without adequate public particpation would reduce urban sustainability. There seems to be a reliance heavily that the government always tries to achieve the 'best' outcomes - regardless of the method. Its rather questionable how the determining authorities are both the applicant and decision maker and in my opinon there need to be some further checks and balances to ensure there is adquate environmental management.